Science Explorations
Animals, Adaptation, and the Galápagos Islands
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Level 2
Level 3
Animals, Adaptation, and the Galápagos Islands

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The three-chapter documentary-style introduction for Animals, Adaptations, and the Galápagos Islands provides key facts about Charles Darwin’s historic trip. The presentation also introduces students to Niles Eldredge, a paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History.

After viewing the introduction with students, use the following script to emphasize key points such as the time period, Darwin’s note-taking practice, and the scientist’s goal. You can also print the script (PDF) to hand out to your students.

Chapter 1
Charles Darwin grew up in 19th century England. From a young age, he was intensely curious about nature and at 22 began a five-year voyage around the world on a ship named the Beagle. To remember his experiences, Darwin took notes about everything he observed… every kind of animal, plant, and rock.

Chapter 2
In 1835, the Beagle arrived at the Galápagos Islands, located in the Pacific Ocean near Ecuador. Darwin was dazzled by the many unusual plants and animals he found. Today we call this rich variety of life “biodiversity.” “Bio” means “life,” and “diversity” means variety. Darwin searched the islands for patterns in hopes of unlocking the mysteries of nature.

Chapter 3
Meet Niles Eldredge. His hero is Charles Darwin. And like Darwin, Niles loves to explore interesting questions about nature. Niles is a paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History. He studies fossils. His goal is to understand how life on Earth has evolved -- or changed -- over long periods of time.

Hi, my name is Niles Eldredge. I'm a paleontologist and an expert on Charles Darwin. I'll be your host as you explore the Galápagos Islands just like Darwin did over 150 years ago.

Now it’s your turn to follow in Darwin’s footsteps…

Begin a class discussion with these questions:
  • Why did Darwin keep a record of everything — every animal, plant, and rock — he observed?
  • What are examples of biodiversity – the rich variety of life on earth — in your community?
  • Why would a modern-day scientist like paleontologist Niles Eldredge study Charles Darwin’s scientific findings from over a century ago?
  • Why do scientists look to the past as well as the future?

Choose a level from the menu to see teaching ideas and learning connections for each activity.

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